The heart of Legacy was unveiled this past Saturday—and it’s an open one.
One of our newest communities, Legacy, down in the SE, now sports a beautiful statue: a silver and gold open heart design created by award-winning actress and artist, Jane Seymour. Jane, known for her roles in Live and Let Die, Somewhere in Time and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, was in Legacy along with Mayor Nenshi and the statue sponsors, WestCreek Developments, to unveil the piece. Unlike many public art pieces, the Open Hearts statue is a rare gift for a suburban community, and serves not only as a decoration, but as a strong message to a city that has so many members undergoing hard times.
Jane’s story, along with her art, is a perfect reflection of the importance of embracing an ‘open heart’ during tough times. Jane shared her mother’s advice to her: keep your heart open when times are tough. Jane shared that she always loved painting and drawing as a child, and suddenly found herself discovering it again during a time of personal adversity.
‘About 25 years ago,’ Jane said, ‘I went through a terrible divorce and I lost everything financially. I was homeless… this was before Dr. Quinn. And I remembered my mother’s advice: when things are really tough, open your heart and help other people. I was at a fundraiser (with a silent auction) for child abuse [victims], and I thought ‘Well that’s way worse than what I’m going through’, and it had always been my mother’s favourite charity. So I gave the last money I had for a silent auction item—somebody had donated time to do a drawing of [the buyer’s] children. That was what I got. I knew I was going to be bankrupt at any minute. I knew I had nothing. This artist came to my house and he taught me how to paint. And he got me back into painting and it became my healing. So in the beginning, my painting was very personal, just for me.’
It wasn’t too long after that Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman came into Jane’s life. She continued to paint, only she now had interest in her art. At first, it was people on the set of the show who wanted her work, then she was approached to do commissions for clients such as Korbel Champagne and Discover Card. Soon, her work was being displayed in New York City’s famous Guggenheim museum. ‘What I always say is out of adversity, out of challenge comes opportunity. If I hadn’t been through such a bad thing in my life, and if I hadn’t given the last of what I had to people who I felt had a worse situation than I did, I would never be the artist I am today, or have had this opportunity.’
The original Open Hearts image was first created on a napkin in a restaurant. Jane had been asked to come up with an artistic concept using hearts and women in red dresses for the American Heart Association to alert women of the risk of heart disease. ‘When I painted hearts, I always left them open and I couldn’t think why I did, and then I realized it was because of my mother’s advice to always have an open heart, not a closed heart.’ The rest is history. The statue of two open hearts flowing into one another also holds another resemblance: that of a J and an S. ‘And JS,’ Jane noted, ‘Apart from being Jane Seymour, to me means the two important things in life: joy and serenity. Joy being the exuberance of life and serenity being the spiritual.’ The ‘open heart’ image has been used in her paintings, jewellery designs and now in statue form.
Jane is not done with the idea, however. ‘My favourite artistic project to do with kids is open hearts. I love to see what kids do with that image.’ Her dream is to see schools taking the open heart concept, and discover how students can add their own magic to it. ‘I think (especially for young people) if they could understand what it means to open your heart… they’ll understand that life isn’t easy, that there are challenges, there are ups and there are downs, and that if your heart is open, love will always come back into your life.’
The climbable statue with a view of colourful hillside behind stands as a reminder of the importance of embracing hope and love, especially in challenging times. After the unveiling, children climbed up and entwined themselves in the hearts, grinning as their parents took pics; couples commented on the romantic photo opportunity; and everyone noted the message of hope presented in a unique form. Even Jane noted how this statue, unlike her previous works, serves as a legacy of her own vision. As so many of our friends and family undergo challenges during this period of time, a visit to the statue is a reminder of how important it is to keeping our hearts open to hope.
As for the words that her mother shared that stuck with her over decades, it’s safe to say that Jane had one ‘savvy’ mom.
For more information on Jane Seymour’s art and charitable work, please visit www.janeseymour.com.